It’s always interesting in these digital days to look at a marketing campaign that’s happening in the real world — and there’s nothing realer than an automobile.
Tampa Bay, a destination that tries to do things differently because it is different from other Florida tourism centers, went to a company called Carvertise, which wraps cars in advertising messages to drive home messages.
Patrick Harrison, CMO at Visit Tampa Bay, said the city does a lot of marketing on transit — like the El in Chicago and subways in a number of U.S. cities, as well as internationally. He said Tampa Bay always has to be innovative to stand apart from places like Orlando and Miami and also competition like Las Vegas and California.
Harrison got a call from Carvertise and “thought it might be fun” to try the company’s strategy.
The city started with a small campaign in Orlando and Miami, and the anecdotal response from tourists and partners was great. Today, there are 70 cars in a number of cities carrying Tampa Bay messages.
The Tampa Bay campaign used the kind of bright bold colors the city typically uses in its marketing.
One approach that has been productive is “swarming,” with a bunch of Tampa Bay-festooned cars all converging at once outside a special event like a hockey game.
Harrison said he and his team get to see the routes that are being driven. Not only do passersby see the cars, but there are retargeting opportunities on their devices.
Looking ahead, Harrison said that theoretically there could be a swarm outside a major convention with messages being sent to everyone nearby.
As of February, Tampa Bay-wrapped cars have driven over 400,000 miles with more than 60 million impressions — and this media platform can be connected with digital campaigns.
The current campaign will run through May, at which point the city will decide on an extension. Harrison said the destination has been delighted with the results. With all the effort on conversions, he said, “you can’t give up on brand awareness.” He said the cars pique peoples’ interest or “they simply find out that you exist.”
Tampa Bay hosts the Super Bowl next year, said Harrison, and the Carvertise campaign is a step in building toward that.
Mac Macleod, founder of Carvertise, said the eight-year-old company is now in 52 markets, using decals to wrap cars. It has relationships with 600,000 drivers, a good portion of whom are ride-share drivers.
There are multiple metrics involved, with a minimum of 1,500 miles a month required. Cars must be 2010 or newer and drivers must have a clean driving record and proof of insurance. Driver make anywhere from $300 to $2,000 per campaign over a period of six to 12 months.
Tourism has become a big segment for his company, said Macleod. There is flexibility with different messages in different cities -- or the ability to change messages periodically within a market.
Aside from Tampa Bay, Carvertise works with Valley Forge, Bucks County, Cooperstown, Long Island and Buffalo. All drivers are tracked and the company has a proprietary platform that delivers aggregated information on where they drove and how much. In addition, mileage can be converted into impression numbers.
There are complexities to considered, like where a specific message fits: on door handles or panels, or the bumper. For affordability reasons, decals have become standardized so they fit on the majority of sedans. For larger vehicles, individual decals can be created.
Proof that marketing in the real world too can be interesting -- and effective.